Tag Archives: HDR

The Bonneville Salt Flats are Dying


Tire tracks on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Tire tracks mar the salt near the Bonneville Speedway. Drive at your own risk.

It seemed like I’d been walking for hours. I couldn’t tell. I lost track of time, long ago. There were signs that others had been here before me, tracks in the salt, but I was alone.

I thought I heard something and stopped to listen. Were my ears playing tricks on me, inventing sounds in the stillness that weren’t there? I couldn’t tell.

My pounding heart was the only sound. All else was stillness. Oppressive, silence.

I was alone.

I began again, and the muffled shuffle of my shoes in the salt beat eighth notes to the sixteenth notes of my heart.

I was thirsty. I needed water.

The Sun glistens on water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats.
The setting sun glistens on the water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats.

I had run out . Yet, I could see it on the surface of the salt, shimmering, teasing, taunting. The closer I got the farther it seemed to be.

If I could  just make it to the mountains.

Bonneville Salt Flats reflections.
Water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats forms a near perfect mirror.

Splashes, suddenly. The sound was refreshing. My steps disturbed a sea of glass. The mirage had not retreated. It was real. The surface stretched for miles. My footsteps sent expanding ripples across the glassy mirror, distorting the sky below me.

Bonneville Salt Flats under water.
A thin sheet of water covers the Bonneville Salt Flats at certain times of the year.

I took two more steps and stumbled. The salt gave way to mud beneath it and my shoes remained behind. I fell to my knees and my pants sucked up water, wet coolness, rising slowly up my thighs. I watched the khaki darken with curiosity, as if my clothes were trying to suck waning life back into my body.

Water covering miles and miles of the Bonneville Salt Flats is only a few inches deep.
Shallow water covers miles and miles of the Bonneville Salt Flats at certain times of the year.

Somewhere inside my head I sensed, maybe even knew, I should not drink this water. It renewed these salt plains. But it was so blue, so clear, and the need was so great. My lips were cracked and my tongue was dry.

I could not resist.

Salt Flats mountain reflections.
A distant rocky mountain reflects on water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats.

I cupped my hands and scooped up the water.  It felt cool on my skin, wet. I opened my mouth and slurped it in. Again, in my head, I knew. I should not have done this.

I was consumed by greed and the reaction was violent. I sputtered and spit. My throat burned. When the brine reached my stomach I retched.

A distant rocky mountain reflects on water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats.
It can be difficult to determine where the earth ends and the sky begins in the perfect reflections of the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Falling forward, my body pushed a large wave across the glass and I broke the surface. The water was not deep. Just enough to cover my face. Salt surrounded me and I looked upon my body, reflecting through the glassy side of a mirror.

When these waters withdraw, others will find evidence that I have been, preserved by salt.

The Bonneville Speedway on the Bonneville Salt Flats used to be thirteen miles long. Now it is only seven. It is not known if the cause of the shrinking salt is due to the depletion of the aquifer as a result of nearby mining, or, from seasonal heavy rains. Nevertheless, the land speed records which have been set in years past must now be accomplished in  shorter distances, as time may be running out on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Desert Ghosts

The air was dry–bone-dust drifting on a desert draft. A storm was coming, you just couldn’t see it yet.

I could hear an engine–distant but closing. The angry sound broke a stillness the desert was reluctant to give up.

Desert dirt road.
Arizona highway? Just a dirt road in the desert.

A Border Patrol agent looked like he was cruising main on Saturday night, one hand on the wheel and one arm out the window–low and slow, The mud caked SUV stopped rolling and a red dust cloud wafted across the sun.

“What you boys doin’ out here?”

Grit ground in my teeth and I spat. “Taking pictures.” I held up my camera.

“Nice night for it,” he said. The sun was setting, but it wasn’t night yet. “Best be careful.”

The way he said it, I wondered if I should call my attorney. I nodded, not agreeing, just nodding.

Marana sunset.
Arizona sunset near Marana, Arizona.

“Ghosts,” he said, shaking his head like I knew what he was talking about, “don’t leave no tracks.”  He looked  down at the dirt and I couldn’t see his eyes. “They like to cross the border after dark.”

He continued to study the sandy ground for a long moment. Then he looked up. Our eyes met.

“Watch yourselves,”  he said.

A coyote howled in the distance.

“Ghosts,” he said again. He tipped his hat and the SUV lurched forward. Tire tracks appeared where tires used to be and a new dust cloud buried their trail.

As the SUV disappeared into the desert, the sun touched a mountain and set the sky on fire.  Quiet fell on falling dust.

Arizona Sunset.
Sunset near Marana, Arizona.

My friend came out of the brush with his camera and tripod.

“What was that about?”

I thought I knew, but I wasn’t sure. I could hear movement in the brush. Footsteps, maybe.

“Ghosts.”  I Pressed the cable release on my camera. The mirror popped up and the shutter opened. The sound was louder than I remembered.  “They like to cross the border after dark.”

Lightning flashed on the horizon. The sound of a distant jet called from above. The coyote howled again.

Moon rise.
A crescent moon rises after sunset over the Arizona desert.

We stayed there taking pictures until long after the light was gone.


Transcendence, Capitol Reef in HDR

There are moments in life which transcend expectation, which transcend time. And there are places in life which transcend those moments. Transcendent experience is something to hope for, even, to seek after. Yet, the fleeting nature of transcendence reveals an existential quality of mortality.

Grand Valley
The road through Grand Valley, Capitol Reef.

Transcendence can not be achieved, it can only be experienced. And, the experience of transcendence  comes when least expected.

It may be that transcendence is only possible when the imposition of expectation has been removed. Perhaps, in those moments, there is a void which only grace can fill. As grace reveals divinity, divinity reveals truth. Truth transcends the moment and our understanding of existence, who we are, where we come from, what our purpose is, becomes clear, or, if not clear, at least implied. In transcendent moments, inspired questions transform the heart. The sacred nature of transcendent transformation ennobles the soul.

Chimney Rock.
Chimney Rock from a distance, Capitol Reef.

Capitol Reef is such a place–a place of transcendent transformation; transcendent because it exceeds expectation; transformative because it is slowly, yet contagiously transforming.

I have , purposely, waxed philosophic. Indeed, the loftiness of the ideas expressed can not compare to the actual grandeur of visiting Capitol Reef, however briefly I was there. In geologic terms, any time that I could spend there, however long that might be, would be brief. Nevertheless,the time I spent in the park was transcendent.

It is impossible to capture the essence of the place, nevertheless, the  majesty of the rocks cried out for something beyond the ordinary. So, forgive, if you will, my HDR sensibilities. While the images presented may lean toward hyper-reality, the actual experience of moments in Capitol Reef transcends the ordinary and claims the extraordinary.

Besides that, it was a lot of fun 🙂

Storm over Paradise, Samoa

A calm before the storm settles over the bay on Upolu, Samoa.

The air was heavy, oppressive. Dark clouds rose above a steel horizon. The humid air made it hard to breathe. I took a shower that morning, but never dried off, still dripping. The clear ocean called to me, but a storm was coming. I could feel it in the quiet slowness. No one was in the water. Most of the locals were resting on mats in their fales. A Samoan home, or fale, is mostly built with bamboo and thatch, allowing maximum airflow. The air was not moving.


Storm clouds bloom over Upolu Island, Samoa.

I watched them come, the dark clouds. The weight of wet-hot weather pushing, pushing down on my chest, holding me in place as I watched them grow, the clouds. I wanted to lie down and not move, sleep until the dark dream dispersed.


When the rains came, it was sudden, as if the ocean moved onshore. The sky was water. The air was liquid. The drops were waves, crashing to earth. The sound rose and swelled, drowning all other sounds.


Then, quiet.


IMG_0454_Waving Boy
Talofa lava–a young boy waves in greeting.

The rains ceased. Clouds moved on, a pleasant breeze chasing them. The sun emerged from hiding. Children were the first to awaken, laughing and playing in streams winding back to sea. Steam rose above fluorescent flora. The world sparkled with brilliant color.


Rain and mountains make for spectacular waterfalls in Samoa.

I witnessed a transformation of the island, Samoa, sea, sky, land. What I didn’t see, couldn’t see then, was the change Samoa wrought in my heart, not until I left that place.


I have not been back, yet, I long to return, to reconcile the man I am with man I hope to be, in paradise.

Winter Wonderland

A powerfully frigid cold spell set in when the magic of Christmas Eve brought a white Christmas. While it is no secret in my family that I don’t like to be cold, I still try to see the beauty around me. With my boots, gloves, hat, parka, snow suit and camera, I don’t mind, much,  walking in a winter wonderland. It was too cold to take many pictures, so, I only took a few.

Happy Holidays!

Sunset on Campus

A few nights ago, we were just wrapping a shoot on the campus of Brigham Young University. It had been raining in the valley most of the afternoon and snow had been falling in the higher elevations. Just before the sun set, it dropped below the storm and lit up the mountain. I had just come out of one of the buildings to this scene. I wished I had a better vantage point, a better view. I find, often, that the challenge is not to find a better view, but to see the world where I am in interesting ways. The light changed, the sun dropped below the horizon, it’s brilliance faded. Yet, in that moment I marveled at the beauty. Fortunately I had the presence of mind to take a picture, for the light didn’t last.

Sunset on Campus
The storm was coming. It had been raining. Just before the sun set, it dropped below the clouds and lit up the mountain.

On the Banks of the Congo River

The heat was oppressive. The air was heavy, barely breathable for one not used to the nearly 100% humidity. I was given 5 minutes to take pictures on the banks of the Congo River, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. The Policeman who accompanied me, told me where I could point my camera. If he listened closely, he could hear the shutter click. After three clicks I had to move on.

The Congo River
Young men work the land on the banks of the Congo River, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Versailles, what’s it like inside?

I think you could spend days inside. We rented an audio device with a recorded digital audio tour. Each room had a number. The number corresponded to the program on the audio device. It was interesting and fascinating. I felt compelled to move on after the short room history ended. I finished my tour of the Palace in an hour. I could have, and should have taken longer.

Places of Paris, Volume 1

Paris is a vibrant city,rich in tradition, culture and history. As I spent time, not nearly enough, in the city, I felt the stories, written in the walls, stones and walkways. I couldn’t help looking through my lens to capture, not what I saw, but what I felt. High dynamic range photography seemed to be the only way I could bridge the gap between my dreams and my abilities. HDR images provided some relief from the need to capture the singular light of this marvelous city on canvas. I have no skill with the brush. I must rely on pixels to form the images I can only imagine amidst the landmarks which call to me in my sleep.